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What is a Class C Misdemeanor in Texas?

Blogs from August, 2022

Misdemeanors in Texas
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There are two major categories of crimes: felonies and misdemeanors. Of these two, the misdemeanors are the less serious ones.

And there are three misdemeanors: class A, B, and C. Of the three, class C misdemeanors are the least serious. The possible punishment doesn’t even include a jail sentence. It’s a fine of $500 or less, community service, or both.

There is even an option of probation, which means that if the defendant meets all the criteria and completes the probation period successfully, the class C misdemeanor charge will be dropped. There will be no record of it regarding background checks.

If you think a class C misdemeanor isn’t a big deal, however, you’re mistaken. If you are convicted, your conviction will show up during a background check, which can come back to bite you. You may not get the job you want. You may face disadvantages when it comes to housing. And there are other disadvantages as well.

How to Deal With a Class C Misdemeanor

In this blog post, you’ll learn much more about what a class C misdemeanor is and which misdeeds are classified as class C misdemeanors. You’ll also learn what it means to be convicted of one and what to do about it. But first, let’s start with how to deal with it.

The most important thing is not to take it lightly. Yes, there is no jail sentence. But there are still unpleasant consequences.

Police lights

So, the first step is prevention. Familiarize yourself with the kinds of activities that count as class C misdemeanors, and don’t do them.

What is a Class C Misdemeanor in Texas?

A Class C misdemeanor in Texas is the least severe misdemeanor offense. Class C misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $500 but no jail time. There is no risk of a permanent criminal record for a Class C misdemeanor conviction.

If it’s too late, you should call a criminal defense attorney for a free consultation and get some advice and hopefully help. Yes, the maximum penalty is “only” $500 in Texas. Still, a class C misdemeanor criminal conviction will haunt you for your entire life and result in stiffer penalties should you run afoul of the law again, even if it’s just a minor traffic violation. So don’t skip this step. Talk to an attorney!

Talk to an attorney!

Examples of Class C Misdemeanors in Texas

Examples of Class C misdemeanors in Texas include:

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Criminal trespassing
  • Simple assault
  • Petty theft or shoplifting of items worth less than $50
  • Passing bad checks worth less than $20
  • Gambling
  • Public intoxication
  • Possession of alcohol or tobacco as a minor
  • Traffic tickets
  • Jumping bail
  • Leaving a child in a car
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia (but no drugs)
  • Assault without any injury (like verbal assault, unwanted touching, and family violence)

A Class C misdemeanor conviction in Texas may be more intense if you are convicted for public intoxication or disorderly conduct thrice.

What do you think? Some of these can be outright scary. Imagine being found with a cigarette on you when you’re under 21 and suddenly having a criminal record. Or running a stop sign and getting a ticket? Or trespassing on public property?

And it gets worse… If you should be convicted of a class C misdemeanor three times, the Texas Penal Code Section 12.43. (https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.12.htm) has provisions to increase the penalties significantly for what they call repeat and habitual misdemeanor offenders, up to and including a jail sentence of 180 days as well as a $2,000 fine:

(c) If it is shown on the trial of an offense punishable as a Class C misdemeanor under Section 42.01 or 49.02 that the defendant has been before convicted under either of those sections three times or three times for any combination of those offenses and each prior offense was committed in the 24 months preceding the date of commission of the instant offense, the defendant shall be punished by:

(1) a fine not to exceed $2,000;
(2) confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days or
(3) both such a fine and confinement.

As you can see, the penalties can seriously increase under certain circumstances, especially for repeat offenders. And while jail time is not part of the standard class C misdemeanor penalty, you can still spend a few nights in jail if you get arrested for an offense.

You should also realize that paying the fine imposed for a first (or any subsequent) class C misdemeanor offense counts as an admission of guilt. And that means it’s part of your record, which anyone doing a background check on you will be able to find, including potential landlords and employers as well as government agencies. This will have consequences for various issues, from living conditions, to employment, and even access to student loans.

What About Probation

Since class C misdemeanors don’t usually come with a jail sentence, the traditional probation approach does not apply. However, there is a way to make it part of a deferred disposition. It requires the defendant to complete a probation process.

This means that he or she must make it through the probation period without violating any of the terms that have been imposed. These can include paying restitution and fees as well as court costs, meeting with a probation officer, doing community service, and, most importantly, not getting arrested.

Police Misconduct Flyer

In order to go through deferred disposition, the defendant has to plead guilty or no contest. If he completes the process successfully, the charges are dismissed. This means they are not on his record and don’t have to be expunged either.

If the defendant is unsuccessful in the probation process and violates the conditions, the case is resumed and moves straight to sentencing.

Can Class C Misdemeanors Be Expunged?

You may wonder if class C misdemeanors can be expunged, and the answer is yes, at least under certain conditions. You would do well, though, to get the help of an attorney when you go that route. In fact, get help throughout the entire process.

Most experienced Texas criminal attorneys have plenty of experience with helping their clients getting their class C misdemeanor charges expunged. It will make a huge difference in your life for many years to come.

So if you are dealing with a class C misdemeanor, take it seriously. Call us for a free consultation, and we will be happy to talk with you and help you get the best outcome.

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